Sowing The Seeds Of Vocabulary (Part Three)

Hi! This is Heather from Campfire Curriculum with Helpful Heather.  Research says children that struggle with comprehension also struggle with vocabulary.  This three-part series lends quick and easy ways to expand your students' vocabulary and also strengthen their overall comprehension. Revisit Sowing The Seeds Of Vocabulary (Part One) to help you understand and implement vocabulary in your classroom.  The second post (Part Two) will remind you how important it is to use Marzano's Vocabulary Process and Multiple Intelligence Theory to reach all students. This post (Part Three) will walk you through implementing vocabulary whole group and small group.  Enjoy engaging your students with vocabulary throughout this new school year and beyond!
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Sowing The Seeds Of Vocabulary (Part Two)

Hi! This is Heather from Campfire Curriculum with Helpful Heather.  As we discussed in Part One research says children that struggle with comprehension also struggle with vocabulary.  This three part series lends quick and easy ways to expand your students' vocabulary and also strengthen their overall comprehension.  Please revisit Sowing The Seeds Of Vocabulary (Part One) to help you understand and implement vocabulary in your classroom.  This post (Part Two) will remind you how important it is to use Marzano's Vocabulary Process and Multiple Intelligence Theory to reach all students!
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High Five Writing: An Easy Method for Complex Sentences

Providing students with an easy method for writing complex sentences can make all the difference in their writing. Their writing will be ready for lots of High Fives.

What are High Five Sentences?

While working with some second grade teachers last year, they voiced concerns about their student's sentence structure and feared it was too simple. We made a plan: High Five Sentences. As you would suspect...high five sentences are so great, you want to give someone a high-five. During this one day lesson, we challenged students to High Five Sentences...supporting them all the way.  We broke the students into partners and we gave them a Who? and a Did What? puzzle. Acknowledging that we had the makings of a good sentence, these sentences were deemed "kindergarten sentences" by the second graders.  We needs to amp up the sentence before we could call them High Five second grade sentences. First, we added more details to the Who? part of the sentence.  We added a gold piece of puzzle and added adjectives.  These students decided the lion was BIG and MEAN.  Once we added the gold puzzle, we decided we only had a High 2 Sentence (whomp, whomp).
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Summer Reading: Getting Books in Their Hands

In July of 2015 we did a book study of Richard Allington and Anne McGill-Frazen's "Summer Reading: Closing the Rich/Poor Reading Achievement Gap" .  It was really eye opening to me to look at the achievement gap in relation to the summer.  And my school took some actions to get more books into the hands of our students throughout the year.  A Readbox, stronger "take-home" program, and more listening stations are just some examples.

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One Game Board Plus Many Games Equals Stronger Students

Children love playing games,and it gives them a way to show what they know in a fun and exciting way.

As a reading specialist, I get to do things that other teachers may not get to do all the time. I use games to help my students with many of the various skills we focus on. As I wound down my year, I spent my final day with my students celebrating our successes with games. And I used the same board for every single game!

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Support with Ice Cream

Support with Ice Cream

Ask a student to support their reasons for an answer can sometimes be as fun as dental surgery.  (No offense to all of you wonderful dental surgeons out there--it is an utter fear of mine!!)  Over the years, I have come to realize a few things.  Providing support for an answer can be difficult because it certainly requires a higher level of thinking, it requires language skills, and it may not be an inherent skill for many students.  Formulating an answer to that question..."Why?"...just isn't as easy as we would like it to be for so many; therefore, it may be important for us to provide a visual to help out.

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Sowing The Seeds Of Vocabulary (Part One)

Hi! This is Heather from Campfire Curriculum with Helpful Heather.  Research says children that struggle with comprehension also struggle with vocabulary.  Wouldn't you like to have quick and easy ways to expand your students' vocabulary and also strengthen their overall comprehension? Sowing The Seeds Of Vocabulary (the first in a series) will walk you through understanding and implementing vocabulary in your classroom.  Read this post and your students will thank you profusely. (See what I did there?)

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Spring Books that Will Make You Flip


One of the most important requirements of us as teachers is to know kid books. You can not have conversations with your students about books they might like, know what books to use for your lessons, or know where to go for supplemental materials if you don't know what's out there. Plus, there are new authors publishing great stuff all...the...time, right? If you only know what you've used for the past ten years, you might be missing great books that your kids would love. Today, I'd like to explore with you titles that work well this time of year for skill modeling
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Graphing Success: Preparing for Those State Assessments

Students will find success when they take ownership of their own learning. Proving their answers and graphing their successes make it real for them as they see what they can do!

It's that time of year again! Testing season is not far away, and we are all getting ready to help our students prepare for the standardized tests. My job as a reading specialist has shifted a little to help students as they work on those all important test taking strategies. This year, I am trying something different.

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The Power of One Word


Earlier this year I was intrigued by a blog post from Tammy over at Forever in First.  She wrote about the book Moo!  After checking it out myself, reading it to my students, watching my students read it over and over, I witnessed the power that one single word (plus punctuation) can have!  And this only led to more books...
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Update and Rejuvenate Your Listening Center

Hi! This is Heather from Campfire Curriculum with Helpful Heather.  Research says children that listen to reading become fluent readers themselves.  Wouldn't you like to have your students listening to quality texts and gaining fluency skills at the same time?  If you create an updated and relevant listening center they will be in no time!  Read this post to find frugal ways to create a listening center that is relevant and fun for your classroom!
Research says children that listen to reading become fluent readers themselves.  Wouldn't you like to have your students listening to quality texts and gaining fluency skills at the same time?  If you create an updated and relevant listening center they will be in no time!  Read this post to find frugal ways to create a listening center that is relevant and fun for your classroom!

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Exploring Software and Websites to Support Reading Comprehension


As teachers, we look for new ways to present information all...the...time, don't we? Pinterest, blog posts, Facebook, TPT, Instagram, and websites are all sources of help for teachers, and teachers are great at sharing lesson ideas they find. Today, I thought I'd do some sharing too. We have been exploring software and websites to support our kiddos with comprehension, so I'll share a review of what we've learned.
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Alphabet Books are for Everyone!

Alphabet books aren't just for the youngest readers. With so many choices, everyone can find one (or more) to enjoy!

And you thought they were just for the younger crowd! Did you know that children in all grade levels can benefit from lessons learned in various alphabet books? There are so many different alphabet books that serve different purposes and can be used in many different ways.

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Warm Up with Poetry: Making Your Poem of the Week Valuable

Using a Poem of the Week provides a structure for the lessons and a springboard for centers.
I have done a Poem of the Week for years. The poem helped cover many quick lessons during the introductory week and review lessons in the weeks that followed. The poem of the week were generally chosen or created to integrate another lesson in reading, math, science, or social studies.
More Winter?

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A Quick & Easy Way to Teach Character Traits

Have you ever asked a student to describe a character and they answer: nice - or start making a list of their eye color, hair color, etc.?  Click here to get some free resources and tips that you can use to help students start to dig deeper!


How many times have you asked a student to describe a character and they start making a list of their eye color, hair color, etc.?  Or perhaps they say my all time favorite answer: nice. Here are some ways that you can start getting students to dig deeper!


Have you ever asked a student to describe a character and they answer: nice - or start making a list of their eye color, hair color, etc.?  Click here to get some free resources and tips that you can use to help students start to dig deeper!
These resources are available in a free download.


Inside/Outside:

The first step is to explain the difference between inside and outside characteristics.  Choose a character and use this template to work through the character traits.  Start with the easiest: outside.  Students can make a list on the outside of physical characteristics like eye color, hair color, height, or type of animal.  Then you can turn your attention to the inside.


Word Lists:

The inside characteristics/traits can be difficult for students to come up with independently.  You can always give examples from the book.

Have you ever asked a student to describe a character and they answer: nice - or start making a list of their eye color, hair color, etc.?  Click here to get some free resources and tips that you can use to help students start to dig deeper!
This great word list is from Colleen at Totally Terrific in Texas.

I love to go through these lists with students and highlight all of the words that might describe the character.  Then we go through and choose the words that are the best fit.

I often have students keep a copy of these lists in their folders to refer back to when they are answering questions independently.


Student Character Traits:

Now for my favorite activity - having classmates describe each other.  I printed out a list for each student and had them write their name at the top.  Then we took turns passing the papers around each student highlighted one positive character trait of that person.  We kept passing the paper until everyone highlighted a trait for each student.

Have you ever asked a student to describe a character and they answer: nice - or start making a list of their eye color, hair color, etc.?  Click here to get some free resources and tips that you can use to help students start to dig deeper!


I took the results and created a wordle for each student.  I have also put a student's picture in the middle of a piece of blank paper and students have taken turns writing a positive trait on the paper.

Personal side note:  This can be an incredible moving and rewarding activity.  I teach small groups of students receiving Tier 2 and 3 support and their confidence is often affected by their academic struggles.  I have done this with 1st graders through 5th graders and the results are always heartwarming. I love seeing the looks on their faces as we read the positive things their peers had to say about them!

I hope that you find these ideas helpful to you and your students!  Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions or other helpful ways to teach character traits!

Click HERE to download the Inside/Outside Character Trait Printable as well as the word lists.

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Have you ever asked a student to describe a character and they answer: nice - or start making a list of their eye color, hair color, etc.?  Click here to get some free resources and tips that you can use to help students start to dig deeper!








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Oral Storytelling with Picture Walks

add more oral language to your picture walks with these simple ideas
Oral Storytelling has been a focus for me this year.  Over the years, we have seen a decline in language skills within my school.  The reasons for this could include more technology time and less family time or less time for play based education and no preschool experience.  Every student is different and so is every story.  But oral language is a key factor when it comes to success in both reading and writing; therefore, the need for language skills is real.  Over the past few months, I have shared some ideas to boost oral language skills through oral storytelling.  This month I will continue this examination but through picture walks.
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Using Fairy Tales to Enhance Comprehension Skills

Fairy tales aren't just for younger students! Students of all ages can benefit from these stories we all know and love!


When teaching a new comprehension skill, many times I use fairy tales since they are a familiar story to many children. We don't have to take the time to think about the plot of the story and can focus on that skill.

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Student-Created Gingerbread Variations

Students worked in groups to create their own gingerbread character and story elements to accompany it.
I'm sure many of you have read multiple versions of The Gingerbread Man story.  I decided to take it a step further this year and have my kids work in teams to create their own gingerbread story.

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R-Controlled Vowels: Success Can Be Found on the Farm

R-controlled vowels can be difficult for emergent readers and writers. Connecting the letters and sounds to the farm can make it a little easier.
Historically, students in my school have shown several weaknesses on the PALS Spelling test: ng/nk, r-controlled vowels, vce, and vowel pairs. Each of these spelling patterns have "rules," but they aren't really rules.  Rules shouldn't be broken and, as you know, spelling rules are broken all the time, but it can give a student a place to start. BUT, R-controlled vowels are especially hard because there aren't really any rules.

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